Common Questions

We’ve provided a list of answers to questions we frequently receive regarding our services and other activities related to funerals. If you don't see the answer to your question here, feel free to contact us. We'd be happy to give you more information and clarify any of your concerns.

 

What is a funeral?

A funeral is a ceremony for celebrating, honoring, and remembering the life of a person who has passed away. While specific customs, traditions, and practices differ across different cultures and religions, all funerals serve the key purpose of giving the bereaved a special time and place to say goodbye and find comfort and healing in one another.

Why have a viewing?

A viewing—also known as “visitation,” a “wake,” or “calling hours”—can involve an open or closed casket, and is seen as a vital part of the grieving process. Having their loved one present often helps family and friends to accept the reality of their loss, especially for those who may not have seen him or her in a while. The opportunity to come to terms with the death and say a final farewell is an important step on the road to closure and healing.

What should I say when I run into the bereaved in public?

What you’ll say depends upon whether or not you’ve already had contact with the bereaved. If you’ve already offered your condolences, or attended the visitation or service, simply greet the bereaved warmly and express an interest in their well-being. If this is your first meeting since the death and you’re in a public setting, it’s kinder not to bring up the death directly. Instead, say something like, “I understand these must be difficult days for you,” and perhaps ask about when might be a good time to visit, or suggest that you meet for lunch.

What can I do to help later?

The grieving process doesn’t end with the funeral, and it will take time for the bereaved to heal. The family will need your support for months to come, so make sure to check in on a regular basis. Drop a note, make a phone call, and continue to invite them when you make social plans; they’ll let you know if and when they are ready to participate. Reach out to the family on special occasions, like birthdays or anniversaries, especially during the first year following their loss.

Should I bring my children to the funeral?

You should use your judgment to determine whether your child is old enough to comprehend death, whether attending the funeral will be meaningful to them. It’s important for children to be allowed to express their grief and share in this important ritual. If you bring young children, explain beforehand what they will see and experience, and make sure that they know the importance of being on their best behavior. If your child becomes cranky or noisy, remove them promptly to avoid disturbing those who are mourning.

What do funeral directors do?

A funeral director is a licensed professional who specializes in all aspects of funerals and related services. They provide support to the family, guide the arrangement of visitations and funeral ceremonies, prepare the deceased according to the family’s wishes, and ensure that everything goes according to plan. They also arrange for the removal and transportation of deceased throughout the process, and assist families with any legal or insurance-related paperwork they might need to file. They’re experienced at recognizing when an individual is having an extremely difficult time coping with a loss, and can provide extra support and recommendations for professional help if needed.

Can I personalize my service?

Absolutely! Our staff has years of experience getting to know families and incorporating their loved one’s hobbies, activities, interests, and unique requests into meaningful and memorable services. Don’t hesitate to make a request because you think it might be too “out there”—we’re honored to work with you to create a service that truly reflects and celebrates your loved one’s individual life journey.

What do I do when a death occurs while out of town or away from home?

It’s important that you contact the local medical authorities first (as well as the police, if appropriate), and then make sure to give us a call as soon as possible. We will work with you to make the necessary arrangements to get you and your loved one back home as quickly and easily as possible. Calling us will also help you to avoid duplication of efforts and fees.

Can I still have viewing and funeral services with cremation?

Definitely! In fact, we encourage you to do so. Choosing cremation only indicates how you’d like to care for your loved one after the service and doesn’t exclude you from celebrating and honoring their life in any way. Whether you’d like to have visitation beforehand, arrange a funeral service before cremation, or wait and hold the service after the cremation, we’re happy to help you design a meaningful service to accompany the cremation.

How long does the cremation process take?

This usually depends upon two things: the size of the individual and the type of casket or container used. A thin person in a cardboard container will take approximately 3 to 4 hours while a heavier person in a wooden casket could take approximately 4.5 to 5 hours.

How can I be sure that the remains I receive are those of my loved one?

First of all, cremation of multiple people at the same time is illegal in the US and many other countries, so the cremation chamber is not designed to hold more than one person at a time. In addition, cremation is a regulated process with strict procedures we follow to ensure we’re holding our services to the highest standard possible. All necessary paperwork and fees must be completed with local authorities, and then a checklist is completed at the crematory. A metal disk with a unique ID number accompanies your loved one from the time we receive the person throughout the cremation process, and after cremation occurs we attach the metal disk to the bag containing the ashes. Knowing the level of respect and meticulous care with which we treat your loved one, you can rest assured that you are receiving only your loved one’s ashes.

Where can I scatter my loved one's cremated remains? Are there any restrictions?

In general, the government does not regulate the scattering of ashes. Make sure you check with your local regulations beforehand, but most locations are usually okay as long as you are considerate and dispose of the container properly. If you wish to scatter the ashes on private land, it’s good practice to consult the landowner first.

Can we have a viewing if my loved one has donated organs or had an autopsy?

Yes. Autopsies and organ donation do not affect your ability to have an open-casket visitation.

What is a columbarium?

A columbarium is a place for the interment of urns containing cremated remains. They’re often located in mausoleums, chapels, or memorial gardens, and contain numerous small compartments, or niches, designed to hold urns.

What is the purpose of a funeral?

Funerals provide surviving family members and friends a caring, supportive environment in which to recognize the death of a loved one, and to share thoughts and feelings about that person. Funerals are the first step in the healing process. The ritual of attending a funeral service provides many benefits including:

-Providing a social support system for the bereaved
-Helping the bereaved understand death is final and that death is part of life
-Integrating the bereaved back into the community
-Easing the transition to a new life after the death of a loved one
-Providing a safe haven for embracing and expressing pain
-Reaffirming one's relationship with the person who died
-Providing a time to say good-bye

It is possible to have a full funeral service even for those choosing cremation. The importance of the ritual is in providing a social gathering to help the bereaved begin the healing process.

I've never arranged a funeral before. What do I need to know?

At some time in our lives, most of us will make or assist in making funeral arrangements. This will not be an easy time, but we offer these tips for smart planning:

-Be an informed consumer and ask questions
-Choose an independent funeral home and a licensed funeral director
-Discuss all service and payment options during the funeral arrangements
-Make sure you receive a copy of the funeral home's General Price List
-Be prepared and make decisions and organize details in advance of need
-Plan a personalized and meaningful ceremony to help you begin healing

What do funeral directors do?

Funeral directors are caregivers and administrators. They make the arrangements for the transportation of the deceased, complete all necessary paperwork, and implement the choices made by the family regarding the funeral and final disposition of the deceased.

Funeral directors are listeners, advisors and supporters. They have experience assisting the bereaved in coping with death. Funeral directors are trained to answer questions about grief, recognize when a person is having difficulty coping, and recommend sources of professional help. Funeral directors also link survivors with support groups at the funeral home or in the community.

What types of funeral services exist?

Every family is different, and not everyone wants the same type of funeral. Funeral practices are influenced by religious and cultural traditions, costs and personal preferences. These factors help determine whether the funeral will be elaborate or simple, public or private, religious or secular, and where it will be held. They also influence whether the body will be present at the funeral, if there will be a viewing or visitation, and if so, whether the casket will be open or closed, and whether the remains will be buried or cremated.

Why have a public viewing?

Viewing is part of many cultural and ethnic traditions. Many grief specialists believe that viewing aids the grief process by helping the bereaved recognize the reality of death. Viewing is encouraged for children as long as the process is explained and the activity voluntary.

What is the purpose of embalming?

Embalming sanitizes and preserves the deceased, retards the decomposition process and enhances the appearance of someone disfigured by traumatic death or illness. Embalming makes it possible to lengthen the time between death and the final disposition, thus allowing family members time to arrange and participate in the type of service most comforting to them.

Is embalming required by law?

No. Most states, however, require embalming when death is caused by a reportable contagious disease or when a deceased is to be transported from one state to another by common carrier, or if final disposition is not to be made within a prescribed number of hours.

Is cremation a substitute for a funeral?

As more people are choosing cremation, funeral service professionals are striving to give consumers a true sense of what their many options are for a funeral service. Often funeral directors find that people have a preconception that they have fewer choices for a ceremony when selecting cremation for themselves or a loved one. Therefore, they request direct cremation and deny the surviving friends and family an opportunity to honor them with a memorial service. In actuality, cremation is only part of the commemorative experience. In fact, cremation can actually increase your options when planning a funeral. Cremation gives people the flexibility to search for types of tributes that reflect the life being honored. But this doesn't mean that aspects of traditional funeral services have to be discarded. Even with cremation, a meaningful memorial that is personalized to reflect the life of the deceased could include:

-A visitation prior to the service
-An open or closed casket Special music
-A ceremony at the funeral chapel, your place of worship or other special location
-Participation by friends and family

Commonly, cremated remains are placed in an urn and committed to an indoor or outdoor mausoleum or columbarium; interred in a family burial plot; or included in a special urn garden.

Cremation also gives families the option to scatter the remains. This can be done in a designated cemetery garden or at a place that was special to the person. Today, cremated remains can even become part of an ocean reef or made into diamonds.

Where can I get more information on cremation?

We can assist you with the necessary information for a funeral or memorial service with a cremation. For more technical information about the cremation process, we encourage you to view information on-line at the National Funeral Directors Association.

What does the average funeral cost?

In 2006 the average charge for an adult, full service funeral was $5,771.73. This includes a professional service charge, transfer of deceased, embalming, other preparation, use of viewing facilities, use of facilities for ceremony, hearse, limousine, and casket. The casket included in this price was an 18 gauge steel casket with velvet interior which may or may not be the most common casket chosen. Vault, cemetery and monument charges are additional. (Source: 2006 NFDA Survey of Funeral Home Operations)

What recourse does a consumer have for poor service or overcharging?

Funeral service is regulated by the Federal Trade Commission and state licensing boards. In most cases, the consumer should discuss problems with the funeral director first. If the dispute cannot be solved by talking with the funeral director, the consumer may wish to contact the Funeral Service Consumer Assistance Program. FSCAP provides information, mediates disputes, provides arbitration, and maintains a consumer guarantee fund for reimbursement of services rendered. (To contact FSCAP, call 708-827-6337 or 800-662-7666).

What should I do if a death occurs at home?

When death occurs, Sharp Funeral Homes personnel are available to assist you at any hour, seven days a week. Please call 877-53SHARP (7-4277) or any of our locations for assistance.

Will someone come right away?

If you request immediate assistance, yes. If the family wishes to spend a short time with the deceased to say good bye, it's acceptable. Our staff will come when the time is right for you.

If a loved one dies out of state, can Sharp Funeral Homes still help?

When death occurs away from home, Sharp Funeral Homes can assist you with out-of-state arrangements and transfer the deceased to a preferred location. Please call 877-53SHARP (7-4277) for assistance.

 

 

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